ROME (AFP) –
Rafael Nadal dominated David Ferrer 7-6 (8/6), 6-0 on Saturday to power into a seventh Rome Masters final, beating his fellow Spaniard for the 12th consecutive time on clay.
Nadal, winner of the Foro Italico trophy in five of seven appearances in the Italian capital, also won a 39th straight claycourt semi-final and has not lost at the final-four stage on the surface since 2003.
Ferrer, a legendary scrambler on the dirt, was beaten by his countryman in Rome for the third time as Nadal polished his career record here to 35-2. He now stands 15-4 in the pair’s series.
“It was unbelievable how David started, he had great rhythm, no errors, was playing aggressive and moving well,” said Nadal.
“All I could do was try to keep the score close as I thought he could not go on at that level.
“After the first six or seven games, our levels became more equal.
“It is great to be in another Rome final, the final preparation before Roland Garros.”
Nadal, with claycourt titles this season in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, added: “Even if I lose I feel I’ve had a great preparation during the red clay season. Reaching the final is the best thing that could have happened. My clay season has been almost perfect.
“It’s unbelievable to be in seven of them here but I’m expecting a tough match on Sunday.”
Play progressed at a glacial pace on Saturday, with the first four games taking 33 minutes which was longer than Federer’s winning first set on Friday against Andreas Seppi.
The second game took up half of that time as Nadal fought off seven break points to finally hold for 2-1.
Ferrer double-faulted away a service game to trail 3-2 as his rival started to get a grip on the match.
Nadal won the 84-minute marathon in a tiebreaker and then began to sprint in the second set to take a 3-0 lead. Ferrer saved five break points in the fourth game before falling to defeat.
“It was close in the first set but tennis is like this,” said Ferrer.
“I won I think three matches this week and today I couldn’t win the tie-break, but to beat Rafael I needed to. When I lost the first game and my serve then it was more difficult to do winners and he played better.”
Spain’s 10-time Grand Slam champion will be competing in his 70th career ATP final on Sunday, defending a record of 48-21.
He and Federer currently share the record for Masters titles won at 20 each.
Nadal has 15 wins on clay this season against one defeat, which came in Madrid against compatriot Fernando Verdasco last week.